March 25, 2011 marks the centennial of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire at the Asch Building in New York City, NY. This tragic event claimed the lives of 146 garment workers, the largest loss of life in a workplace in America until the 9-11-01 terrorist attacks. The victims were predominately young immigrant female workers, some as young as 14 years old, working up to 72 hours a week, including Saturdays. Ironically, the shirtwaist blouse they produced was viewed as an expression of modernity and women’s independence.
The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire is often called “the fire that changed everything,” for the many important workplace and fire safety laws that were passed in its aftermath. These changes included: outward opening doors, fire drills, installation of sprinkler systems in commercial occupancies exceeding certain heights, child labor laws, workmen’s compensation laws, and the birth of the ASSE (American Society of Safety Engineers) www.asse.org/100, the largest and oldest professional safety organization in the United States.
Chris Connor, retired Fire Department City of New York (FDNY) Fire Marshal, and now Safety Manager for Urban Engineers of New York, D.P.C., has been involved with the centennial commemoration of this famous fire through the Triangle Fire Coalition (www.rememberthetrianglefire.org). Chris will be presenting on the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire on Thursday, March 24, 2011 at a dinner hosted by the NYC ASSE Chapter to commemorate the tragedy and its legacy. The event will be at the NYC Fire Museum, with representatives from the New York State Governor’s and New York City Mayor’s offices, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, victim’s family members, and the national ASSE president attending.
The centennial memorial ceremony will take place Friday morning, March 25, 2011 outside the Brown Building (formerly Asch), located now on the campus of New York University at 23-29 Washington Place, between Greene Street and Washington Square East in Manhattan, New York City.
Chris is featured above in a documentary about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire produced by the Jewish Daily Forward Newspaper (www.forward.com). The video points out fire safety improvements that have occurred in the workplace over the last century as a result of this tragedy. For more information on the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, please visit: http://www.ilr.cornell.edu/trianglefire and www.rememberthetrianglefire.org